by Wendell Bell,
Source – Grid Monitor
On May 16, the Texas House of Representatives approved a Senate bill providing for the regulation of electric brokers. It addresses concerns identified in the Public Utility Commission’s Scope of Competition Report about new players in the retail electric market providing brokerage services that currently are not required to register with the commission.
Senate Bill 1497 by Sen. Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would provide express regulatory authority over brokers, which are essentially consultants that assist customers in selecting retail electric providers (REPs) and service plans that best meet their needs. The bill would require brokers to register with the PUC and comply with customer protection rules.
Sponsored in the House by Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), the bill passed by a vote of 95 to 38. When explaining the legislation, Parker stressed that it was limited in its purpose so that information provided by registrants would include only contact information and a basic description about the business entity. It would not require disclosure about sensitive commercial information. There would be no fee required for registration. Parker said that most brokers provide valuable services for electric customers, and the bill provides a means for the PUC to identify bad actors.
The bill moves back over to the Senate for consideration of House amendments, which specify the applicability of certain customer protection provisions, disclosure requirements, and marketing guidelines for entities registering as brokers.